Can't pay $349 for an Apple Watch? Get a Chinese knockoff for less than $50

It might even look vaguely like the real thing

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China's legendary counterfeit craftsmen have been quick on the draw and are selling rip-off Apple Watch lookalikes for a fraction of the price, even though Cook & Co haven't shipped any devices as yet.

"These guys are specialists," Laurent Le Pen, founder of Shenzhen smartwatch maker Omate, told CNN. "The speed at which they can bring copies on the market is amazing."

Omate has reportedly had its own share of troubles with counterfeiters, but when it came to the Apple Watch, the clone-kit artists wasted no time.

Less than 24 hours after Tim Cook announced Apple's new wrist-puter, the Middle Kingdom's manufacturers in Shenzhen were offering knockoffs such as the Airwatch A8 and the D-Watch, which run variants of Android that have been tweaked to look vaguely like the real thing.

At this stage, the fake Watch adverts use Apple's own photographs to illustrate the product, so you can bet the finished products will bear only a passing resemblance to Sir Jony's industrial designs. But that may change.

"The hardware is not the big challenge – the hard part is on the software and the application side," Le Pen said. "In the end, you sometimes need to be an expert to tell the difference between real and fake."

Prices for the phony smartwatches range from between $41 and $47 apiece for clones of the basic sport version of the Apple Watch. So far there's no sign of dodgy replicas of the $17,000 model, but if they exist, you can bet the gold will scratch off without much effort. ®

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